Review: Jack Ingram "Big Dreams & High Hopes"

Jack Ingram didn't take the easy route to mainstream country music success. He spent years touring the Texas music circuit and had his ups and downs along the way. However, his perseverance has paid off in a big way, because Jack Ingram's seventh studio album, "Big Dreams & High Hopes," is his best yet.

The project starts off strong with the breezy "Free" by Jay Knowles and Trent Summar. "Big Dreams & High Hopes" also features the heartfelt Top 20 hit "That's A Man," which offers a compelling story in song. The terrific new single "Barefoot And Crazy," which was co-written by Rhett Akins, offers a rockin' beat, guitar solos, crisp lyrics and a pitch-perfect vocal performance from Jack Ingram.
The biggest surprise of the album is the poignant "Seeing Stars" featuring the vocals of Patty Griffin on a track Ingram wrote with Chris Tompkins. The voices of Jack Ingram and Patty Griffin provide glorious harmony in an understated performance that has a quiet intensity which builds to a crescendo at the end of the cut. Likewise, the second biggest surprise is the somewhat experimental alt-country track "In The Corner," which Ingram wrote. Ingram took a risk by ending the album with "In The Corner," but the song is a triumph.

Jack Ingram explores more familiar and satisfying country territory with "King Of Wasted Time," "Heartache" and "Man In Your Life." It's clear that the title track "Big Dreams And High Hopes" is autobiographical and especially meaningful for Jack Ingram, who said "big dreams and high hopes" can come true when he won his first Academy of Country Music Award in 2008.

Dierks Bentley joins Jack Ingram on the hard-pumping "Barbie Doll," which was written by Ingram and Todd Snider. But the best song on the album is "Not Giving Up On Me." This cut fully deserves to be Number One on the Billboard Country Chart. It offers truly passionate lyrics, soaring vocals and the same country charm of Ingram's #1 hit "Wherever You Are."

Jack Ingram and his label head, Big Machine Records' Scott Borchetta, have every right to breathe a huge sigh of relief and break into a great big smile with the landmark release of "Big Dreams & High Hopes." For years, Jack Ingram deserved the success he is enjoying today. The partnership with Big Machine finally allowed Ingram to harness all of his considerable talent and energy in the most compelling way possible.

On the title track "Big Dreams & High Hopes," Ingram sings about being led through the hard times and being shown where to go. Thankfully, with an album as good as "Big Dreams & High Hopes," there is no doubt that this cowboy is riding to the top of the country chart.